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Presidential Seal of Approval for Raptor

Vershire — Scott Calhoun apparently has a fan in the White House. And not because of the Rivendell Academy senior’s exploits on the soccer field.

When he isn’t competing for the Raptors, Calhoun spends his time helping others. A lot of time, in fact, enough to receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national program that rewards American citizens and legal permanent residents for their efforts on behalf of various causes.

The award caught Calhoun, 17, a little by surprise when it arrived two weeks ago, he admitted this week. It came in the form of a certificate, lapel pin and letter signed by President Obama, and it recognized the more than 100 hours Calhoun has dedicated to volunteer projects in the past year and a half.

“It’s knowing that you’re not only helping your community but making things happen and making people happy without anything in return,” Calhoun said in a Wednesday night phone interview. “That makes me feel better as a person. You can’t go wrong.”

While Calhoun’s parents have always encouraged him to volunteer, the bug really bit as a result of a nomination by a Rivendell guidance counselor to attend a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar in Contoocook, N.H., at the end of his sophomore year. The Orford-Fairlee Lions Club helped sponsor Calhoun’s trip, and through the group the Vershire resident has found help in setting up his projects.

Since then, Calhoun has assisted at the annual Allen Avery Memorial Raptor Run, a five-mile fundraising circumnavigation of Lake Morey Road each spring, as well as the recent CHaD Hero Half Marathon. He’s taken part in blood drives and volunteered with the Vershire Fire and Rescue Department.

Calhoun created the Rivendell Academy Leo Club, a Lions initiative for high school students and one of just two such school-affiliated groups in New Hampshire, he said. Monthly club projects have included sales of pink T-shirts for breast cancer awareness and a “pennies for patients” fundraiser that produced a donation of almost $2,000 toward the fight against leukemia and lymphoma.

“There’s a lot of support in a small community,” he said. “People that aren’t always involved with the school wonder what the high school and middle school kids are doing. They like to know when you volunteer.”

A four-year member of the Rivendell boys soccer varsity, Calhoun scored a pair of goals in his first match as a freshman in 2010. He led his team in scoring the past two seasons; he topped the Upper Valley with 21 goals this year, and his 28 points were second only to the 31 of Woodsville’s David Bazzell.

He isn’t done yet, with basketball season on the horizon and baseball waiting next spring.

“It gets me away from the stuff I have to worry about,” Calhoun said. “I’ve been playing all three for a lot of years now. It gives me something to do, but I love playing all three. I’ve been playing with the same guys every year, for the same people in a small community. They put a lot into it.”

Volunteering with the town fire squad is a natural; Calhoun’s father, Chris, is a department captain. It may be the teenager’s future, as he hopes to join the University of Maryland’s fire protection engineering program in the coming year.

“It intrigues me a lot, if I don’t find a college that’s a fit for me,” he said. “It’s one of the few schools that have that.”

Now Calhoun has some unanticipated recognition for what he does in his free time. Although that HOBY conference started the ball rolling toward his PVSA award, Calhoun didn’t see it coming.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, what is this?’ ” Calhoun said of the envelope’s arrival. “I opened it up and it was a document signed by President Obama with a few things from HOBY. I’d never heard of the award before. They’d said something about it, but I didn’t know it was from the president.”

Now that the foundation has been set, Calhoun is hoping his Rivendell peers will run with the volunteerism ball once he moves on to college.

“I do like it, but it’s coming to the point where I’ll let it go to others,” Calhoun admitted. “I love it when others start to do this. I’m not sure what will happen when I’m gone, but there are a lot of people younger than me that I can see taking on the challenge of keeping service important at our school.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.